OPINIONATRIX…because my opinions dominate











{December 10, 2008}   Oh, Oprah…

oprah

When it comes to Oprah Winfrey, there are usually two camps of people: those who adore her and those who think she is totally overrated and can’t stand her.  Whatever group you’re in (and for the record, I adore her) she probably stands for a lot of things in your mind.

For me, Oprah is a powerful, warm and inspirational woman.  She epitomizes success.  She came from nothing and is now one of the highest paid TV celebrities with an entire media empire unto herself.  Couple that with the fact that she is undoubtedly one of the most philanthropic Americans, and she really comes out a winner in my book.

It is for these reasons that the recent publicity around the fact that Oprah has gained weight upsets me.  Oprah’s weight has been a 20 year battle, covered by the media, and stems from the big O herself.  In an upcoming article in January’s O magazine, Oprah states,

“I’m embarrassed, I can’t believe that after all these years, all the things I know how to do, I’m still talking about my weight. I look at my thinner self and think, ‘How did I let this happen again?”

While it may be comforting to some to realize that Oprah is just like the rest of us – battling her own insecurities in spite of all she has achieved, it saddens me.  I want to reach out to Oprah and let her know that most of us rarely, if ever, give a second thought to her weight. Oprah has achieved so much, and tends to look great no matter what she weighs.  Oprah’s fans could care less what the scale says.

Oprah has a unique gift.  She is able to play the best friend and confidant, while serving as role model and inspiration at the same time.  It is hard sometimes to realize that no matter how phenomenally talented, successful and adored one may be, loving oneself can be a never ending battle.

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It recently came to my attention that last Wednesday was Love Your Body Day.  I am not sure exactly how or if this was publicized (I found out about it this weekend from a friend), but I have no doubts that its creators meant well.  Judging from the promotional website, this was a campaign aimed at women (though I’d argue men have body issues too) in order to get them to take a special day to love and appreciate their bodies.

In theory, I think this is a wonderful idea.  The majority of women and men (myself included) constantly fault and punish their bodies, focusing on weight and appearance rather than being thankful for their health and the multitude of things our bodies do for us daily.  In today’s appearance propelled culture, body image is at an all time low.  You know our society is in trouble when it is not uncommon for children under 10 to feel the need to diet.  Obviously, all this self hatred/criticism needs to be addressed, and I imagine that was a part of the “love your body day” campaigns goal.  Kudos to them, it’s about time we addressed this important issue on a large scale.  This is just as prevalent a problem as the rise of obesity (if not more so).

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all just decide to love our bodies and be done with it.  Like “no TV week,” it would be so easy to just flip a switch for a week or a day and be able to experience the difference.  The problem here, is that unlike a TV set, there is no switch that flips easily from self hatred to self acceptance.  Loving ones body is a process that takes years for some, and is endless for others.  I know I am constantly critiquing, comparing and feeling unsure about my own body, and it would take much more than a day to move me over into the world of body love.  I don’t think it is too far a leap to say that this is the reality of most women (and men) out there.

I think a better day might be “Be Good to Your Body” day.   A day where we could take the time to pamper and reward our bodies for all they do for us daily.  A day to abstain from dieting, constant working out or belittling comments, and instead thank our bodies for getting us through the day.  This would be a far more feasible task than simply “loving” our bodies.  It has taken many of us years to develop an ideal body to lust after and hold up in our minds as perfect, and it will take just as long for us to rip that down and accept the body we were given.  Loving your body may sound simple, but in reality it is anything but.



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